Just what needed to happen
One of my fears with the conference realignment fiasco is that the smaller teams of the world would be forever lost. The only way to continue to make those schools relevant was to hope they all got really good, really quickly. Or so it seemed.
Yesterday it was announced that Conference USA and the Mountain West will merge as one, and will probably expand from the 15 they presently have. With this many teams all in one conference, they can't be ignored. And make no mistake, these are the teams that would have a real chance to make waves at the top. Sorry, MAC. It will keep rampant expansion in check (since teams may not be compelled to leave a team with as large a footprint, and perhaps a BCS autobid), and likely will be a home for any teams left out of continued realignment (Kansas State, I'm looking at you).
I am intrigued by this new conference for basketball reasons. Well, I was until I remembered that Memphis was leaving the conference. Yahoo already covered the topic. From the outset, this conference looks like it will be dominated by the remnants of the MWC. Remember, San Diego State is not going to be there, but UNLV still will be. New Mexico, Fresno State and Nevada will be strong contenders as well. From the form C-USA, schools like Tulsa, UAB and UTEP have a recent history of success, while Southern Miss is actually on top of the conference this year.
I think this is going to turn into a very enjoyable conference. There will be traction for the football teams to make waves in the BCS (or whatever happens in the next several years) and people will love that they intend to have a conference playoff. They will also be like the Conference USA of old, when it had Memphis and Louisville, mid major powerhouse that showcases good basketball, and is a threat in the tournament. Come to think of it, the new Big East is exactly like the old Conference USA, right down to Memphis and Louisville. The thing is, the new version just might be better at football, where it matters most.